Since Google introduced the Android Wear platform for wearable devices, smart watches have begun to move from the category of “toys for geeks” into full-fledged and multifunctional electronic devices. Given a unified environment in which full customization is difficult to achieve, gadget manufacturers have begun to pay more attention to the design of smartwatches. One of the new trends in this area is watches with round displays. Previously, similar watches had already been released by another manufacturer, but the cut at the bottom of the screen did not allow them to be called completely round. LG took this shortcoming into account, and its new device, the LG G Watch R, can easily be called the first smartwatch with a truly round display.

Specifications

  • screen: P-OLED, 1.3 ”, 320×320 pixels, capacitive;
  • processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 1.2 GHz;
  • operating system: Android Wear 5.0;
  • RAM: 512 MB;
  • built-in memory: 4 GB;
  • wireless interfaces: Bluetooth 4.0 LE;
  • sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass, heart rate monitor;
  • battery: 410 mAh;
  • dimensions: 46.4 x 53.6 x 9.7 mm;
  • weight: 62 grams.

Packaging, accessories

The LG G Watch R was reviewed without packaging, but with a proprietary charger. It is a round cradle with five contacts for charging the device, a built-in magnet for securely fixing the watch, and a micro-USB port on the side.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to position the cradle vertically so that the clock plays the role of a table clock at night. But you can simply bring them to the platform, after which they will be magnetized and charging will begin.

Appearance

The design of the LG G Watch R resembles that of an ordinary wristwatch.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

This impression is created by the utilitarian appearance, the metal from which the watch case is made, the high-quality matte plastic used as the material for the top cover, and the wide bezel with the minutes printed on it. A touch that evokes a sense of completeness of the design is the return button to the home screen, to the right of the dial, made in the form of a crown.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

The microphone is located on the bottom edge of the watch (in relation to the dial), and on the back panel there are five contacts for connecting a docking station and a heart rate monitor.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

The black watch comes with a calfskin leather strap of the same color (the inside of the strap is light gray, but when the watch is on your hand, this is not visible). The manufacturer does not offer different color solutions, although the strap is replaceable, and if desired, the watch can be customized, making it unique.

LG G Watch R review: the first round onesLG G Watch R review: the first round ones

The LG G Watch R case is protected from water and dust according to the IP67 standard. This means that you can not only safely wash your hands while wearing the watch, but also swim – the device can withstand immersion to a depth of up to one meter for 30 minutes. True, using the gadget in salt water is not recommended in any case – this has a bad effect on both the leather strap and the unprotected contacts on the back panel.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

Ergonomics

Thanks to the soft strap with a large number of slots for precise adjustment, the watch sits comfortably on the hand and is almost invisible during everyday wear, without interfering with writing or working with a computer. If you have a thin wrist, the gadget may not be very convenient due to its width, which is almost 5.5 centimeters: the edges of the device will not touch your hand and will be “suspended” in the air. So before you buy a smartwatch, including the G Watch R, it’s best to try it on to see if it’s too big for your hand.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

Screen

The LG G Watch R smart watch uses a P-OLED matrix with a diameter of 1.3 inches and a resolution of 320×320 pixels. Here it is worth talking a little about the display technology itself, since it is relatively rarely used in mobile devices, although LG has even released smartphones with such screens. P-OLED is short for Polymer OLED (polymer organic light-emitting diodes). Unlike traditional OLEDs, which use “small molecule” materials, P-OLED uses “large molecule” polymers. This makes P-OLEDs less efficient and longer lasting than OLEDs, but these LEDs consume less power and are much easier to manufacture, making them more attractive to electronics manufacturers.

Apparently, LG smartwatches do not use PenTile. Even despite the high ppi for a watch (348 pixels per inch), if desired, you can see individual pixels on the screen, but the display has no visible defects in color rendering (as you know, on displays with Pen Tile you can see a clear halo of red dots around icons and inscriptions on a black background). Also, thanks to the relatively high resolution with a small diagonal, even small decorative elements are clearly displayed on various dials, which creates a pleasant impression of using the device.

The screen of the LG G Watch R has excellent color reproduction (the white color on the display is truly white, no matter which way the device is tilted) and high contrast (a consequence of the use of OLED technology). Of course, the protective glass of a watch of this level is scratch-resistant and also has a high-quality oleophobic coating, which makes it easy to remove fingerprints from the screen. The minimum brightness of the backlight is enough to view the time even on the street during the day, and the maximum, which automatically turns on when you call the Google Now menu or notifications, allows you to comfortably read messages and work with programs. It’s safe to say that the LG G Watch R has one of the best displays among smartwatches. Together with the design and a large selection of dials, this creates a positive impression even when you first get acquainted with the device.

Interface and functionality

Our website has already published reviews of other smartwatches running Android Wear, so we will not focus on the standard functions of this operating system. We will only talk about the features of a specific model, as well as changes in the new version of Android Wear 5.0, which should soon be available for download to all owners of smart watches running the previous version of the OS.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

LG G Watch R offers the user no less than 18 watch faces to choose from. Among them are both classic pointer and modern digital ones, as well as several non-standard ones – for example, in the form of a fried egg. You can select a watch face not only from the watch itself, but also through the Android Wear application for your smartphone.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

Thanks to the built-in pedometer and heart rate monitor, the smart watch monitors the user’s activity throughout the day – it counts the number of steps taken, and can also measure the pulse. True, the watch does not measure heart rate without special software: it can either be measured one-time through the Google Fit application, or you can enable the continuous heart rate monitoring mode in the Cardiogrpaph program (you will need to first install it on your smartphone). Moreover, if the monitoring data from Cardiograph immediately goes into the application on the smartphone, then, unfortunately, it is impossible to view it in Google Fit – the whole history is available only on the smart watch itself.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

One of the noticeable changes to the interface of the latest version of Android Wear is a new menu when playing music. Now all the player control icons on the smartphone (switching tracks forward and backward, increasing and decreasing the volume) are on one screen, and not on separate ones.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

The background of the music control menu changes automatically, depending on the main color of the album cover, the track from which is currently playing. In addition, the music playback notification can now be completely removed by swiping down so that it does not cover the bottom of the watch face. To display the notification again, just make another swipe in the opposite direction.

Another important innovation in Android Wear is a full-fledged quick access panel at the top. Now it can be opened entirely, and switching between normal mode and “do not disturb” mode does not happen automatically, but manually, by clicking on the bell icon when the panel is open. Thanks to this, the date and battery charge level can now be viewed without fear of accidentally switching modes, which often happened before.

In addition, other functions have appeared in the quick access panel, which can be changed by swiping to the left: “Theater” mode (completely turning off the display until you press the physical button on the side), setting the maximum screen brightness (you can disable this function by covering the screen with your palm), as well as quickly switching to device settings.

Filling and autonomous operation

The LG G Watch R uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset clocked at 1.2 GHz. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not disclose the exact model of the chipset, so we cannot say for sure which cores and in what quantity are used in the smartwatch processor, although based on the frequency, we can assume that the device uses four ARM Cortex-A7 cores. But there is complete confidence that the chipset is made using a 28-nanometer process technology, which should have a positive effect on both power consumption and the speed of the device.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

We tested the watch’s performance in the only benchmark for the Android Wear platform found on Google Play. You can see the results in the screenshot above (for comparison, the performance of the 2013 flagship smartphone is 16 Gflops on a single core in the same test). This filling is sufficient for smooth and fast operation of not only standard, but also third-party applications. The RAM capacity of the smartwatch is 512 megabytes, and the internal memory is 4 gigabytes, with part of it reserved for the operating system.

Autonomous operation

Assumptions about energy consumption were completely justified. From a full charge of the 410 mAh lithium-ion battery, the LG G Watch R can last either two full days (provided the watch is turned off at night), or about a day with continuous use. Testing was carried out in the mode of a constantly on screen, as well as periodic use of standard smartwatch functions – viewing notifications, switching tracks, voice search, counting steps and measuring heart rate.

LG G Watch R review: the first round ones

Results

The concept of a smartwatch in its modern form is only a few years old, so the technologies associated with it are only developing. However, this does not prevent manufacturers from surprising users with high-quality and balanced devices. The LG G Watch R looks solid on the hand, has functionality limited only by the imagination of developers of third-party programs for Android Wear, and lasts a relatively long time on a single battery charge (although the device is still far from ideal autonomy).

Pros:

  • fully circular OLED display;
  • many watch faces to choose from;
  • built-in heart rate monitor.

Minuses:

  • There are few third-party applications adapted for the round screen.